Maji Safi Group’s Female Hygiene Program brings Shirati’s powerful women together. In this remote corner of Tanzania, many young women live in families where female changes are a taboo subject; yet, such information keeps young women in school. Throughout the year, Maji Safi Group (MSG) enables these young women to learn about puberty, hygiene, health, disease prevention, and healthy relationships from Judith and Linda, their female Community Health Worker mentors. The goals of this program are not only to teach proper Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) behaviors and disease prevention, but also to decrease school absences and foster creative, athletic, intellectual, and leadership abilities in the participants. In addition to lessons, these young women are encouraged to take part in fun and creative activities.
It is not easy for young women to ask questions about female hygiene and health when they grow up in an environment filled with taboos, cultural stigmas, and safety hazards for women. MSG’s Female Hygiene Program offers a safe environment where they can talk freely and ask sensitive questions. Program participants become young ambassadors for health and feel comfortable teaching female hygiene to their peers.
Three times a year, Maji Safi Group’s Female Hygiene Program includes the participants’ mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, and other female relatives in our “Dining for Female Hygiene” events. Female relatives are invited to learn about the Female Hygiene Program and the lessons that are taught, and the events give them the opportunity to ask any questions they have about female health and hygiene. On Saturday, December 13, 2014, such powerful women – 85 of them – spent half a day together, learning about these topics and enjoying a delicious lunch that MSG’s Community Health Workers had prepared.
Judith, Linda, and the regular program participants presented AFRIpads and showed the audience how to use these reusable feminine hygiene pads. Women who were already using such pads talked about their experiences in an open and safe environment. The girls also showed what they had learned through dances and skits, and thanks to Lunapads’ generous donation of AFRIpads, every woman at the event went home with a set of pads that will last them for a year.
What a day this was! It was amazing to spend time with all these women, discussing sensitive topics in an open, free, and safe environment. For some mothers, it was the first time their daughters taught them something in front of an audience. There were some mighty proud Mamas in Shirati that beautiful day in December!